Some Thoughts and Theories About the Crystals in the Sands of Menechtarun

Anybody who knows me, knows that I really enjoy questing and exploring the Demon Sands, also known as the Sands of MenechtarunErdrique has been working on completing his level 11 and 12 quests on elite, which includes these quests.  He has also been working diligently on maxing out all the explorers, rares, and slayers for each wilderness area as he goes through his barbarian life.  So far he has done quite well on this endeavor, only missing one rare encounter in the Restless Isles.  Erdrique is now level 16, which is one level higher than what is allowed to gain full experience from the Desert wilderness zone, however I’m stubborn and really wanted to max the area out.  Especially since when he hit level 16 he had the explorers, rares, and gnoll slayers completed and was well on his way to finishing the scorrow and undead slayers. 

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Erdrique exploring the Desert and fighting the undead.

Twilight in the Desert.

While taking Erdrique through the Desert, one thing pondered me when I picked up one of the explorer areas behind all of the pyramids.  The explorer point actually made note of the beautiful purple crystals that are springing up from the ground and how they make a spectacular view.  I started to wonder a little bit about this.  In most instances in fantasy settings, crystals are known to contain some type of strong magical force.  Now, I can be stretching this thought a little thin but since it was pointed out as an explorer area I started wonder about this possibility.  I wondered if the crystals were indeed magical or in some way could store magical power and if that was possible if King Raiyum was able to tap into that power.

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Erdrique taking out a windlasher gnoll by the tombs in the Desert.

If you follow the storyline between the various quests of the Desert, one of the things you learn is that King Raiyum (who is now a lich) was one of the most powerful summoners the world has ever seen.  It was King Raiyum who summoned the powerful Demon Queen herself, Lailat, to the Desert.  This becomes even more evident when you explore the Desert and the various quests and you come across dust mephits, sand mephits, air mephits, elder air elementals, djinnis, flesh renders, fire reavers, efreetis, and hell hounds.  All of these extra planar creatures try to wreak havoc during our explorations of the pyramids and the explorer area around the tombs.  It is also mentioned that besides being a potent summoner, he was also a very strong caster with stories mentioning how he bested warriors and tricked the most powerful warriors to serve him. 

Raiyum’s protected vault in the Tomb of the Wizard King.

But what is never mentioned is how he obtained this spectacular power.  I’m beginning to wonder if he developed some way to harness the potential magic in the crystals that surround the pyramids in the Desert or if he was able to store magical energies into those crystals.  The crystals are quite large and numerous and I don’t recall see anything else quite like in any of the other explorer areas.  If Raiyum was able to use these crystals as a magical weapon then it would explain his strong rise to power and explains is arrogance in some aspects. 

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Erdrique looking out toward the Burning City.

Just some random thoughts.  Ok all, thanks for reading and get back into the Demon Sands and right King Raiyum’s wrongs!!!  Happy exploring all!! 

Rust monsters protecting iron ore in Maraud the Mines

Over the last week, I have been taking Erdrique through some level 11 quests which includes the side quest in the Sands of Menechtarun.  One of these quests is called Maraud the Mines.  Maraud the Mines is a walk up quest in the zone of the desert occupied by the firebrand gnolls and on the way towards the quest Chain of Flames. 

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Erdrique getting help from his chaos beholder in Maraud the Mines.

The objective of the quest is quite simple, steal the gems and the ore from the firebrand gnolls.  The quest is relatively short and filled with some firebrand gnolls, earth elementals, fire elementals, and some rust monsters.  Now the gems and ore are found in crates and barrels which fall out when the containers are smashed.  During this particular run, the rust monsters were protecting the stash of iron ore.

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Huge rust monsters protecting the dead end path with the iron ore ingots in Maraud the Mines.

Now I know that the gnoll isn’t the brightest of all creatures, however, you would think they would know that setting up a bunch of rust monsters to protect a stash of iron ore ingots is probably not the wisest of ideas.  I mean come on, you are essentially giving the rust monsters a nice tasty snack of what they love best!!  Then again, you would think that would make the rust monsters all that more zealous in their guarding of the ore…hm..maybe it isn’t such a bad idea after all..

In either case, Maraud the Mines is a relatively simple quest that is straight forward to run once you realize the bridges overlap and as long as you don’t fall into the lava pit below…

Well that is it for now, thank you for your time reading and happy hunting in the desert!!

Dreams of Insanity…only died three times…

Well it has been a little while since I was able to draft up a blog post because of my wacky schedule with the holidays so I want to try to catch back up because I have done a number of things that I wanted to write about.  This first of these I wanted to talk about was a recent run through of Dreams of Insanity.  I took Erdrique through the Dreams of Insanity a few days ago and was quite glad I made it through with only three deaths.  Dreams of Insanity is a Level 11 quest that is rarely ran and it happens to be the “sister” quest to Xorian Cipher.  The quest is bestowed by another hobgoblin gatekeeper named Trakash in House Jorasco who is right next to the quest giver for Tempest Spine.  Like the Xorian Cipher, it has a small quest zone prior to the actual quest, called the Pools of Reflection.

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Erdrique enjoying the scenery in the Pools of Reflection and getting ready to fight the ancient constructs outside.

Just like Xorian Cipher, the Dreams of Madness is chalk full of chaos orbs, drow fanatics, drow scorpions, thaarak hounds, and our friendly beholders.  The primary premise of the quest is to close the primary portal and to destroy the legions that have already made their way from Xoriat. 

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Erdrique fighting the drow in the Gate of Nightmares.

None of the Crypt Crawlers were on when I decided to venture into Gate of Nightmares, so I brought a hireling and brought out the Xoriat Shard and unjoyed the fact that I pulled out a chaos beholder.  I was quite happy and surprised to see the chaos beholder actually stone an ancient iron defender.

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Erdrique’s chaos beholder “stoning” an ancient iron defender.

I also found it fitting that to help me take out a bunch of Xoriat fanatics that I was using summoned creatures from that same plane .  Taking a hireling through this particular quest is also quite challenging.  Primarily because the shrines are spaced far apart and the quest is actually pretty dang long as you have to circle or loop through it, basically twice, to open up the final room.  During this period of exchanges, cleric hirelings tend to use a whole lot of mana in this particular quest so you need to do quite a bit of hireling “management” if you want to be successful and not have them run out of mana.

There are a few named beholders and named drow scorpions in the quest, which can be challenging, and drow priests are tough if you don’t take them down right away.  However, the most challenging part of the quest is the end fight. 

The named beholder at the end is particularly tough/dangerous but the only part of this encounter is having to activate several runes to shut the final/main portal to Xoriat.  The runes are scattered througout the final room, including the rafters above.  And of course the rafters are dominated by drow archers.  So after you take out the name beholder, you have to run around and activate the runes before more beholders and thaarak hounds enter.  This is the hard part as you are constantly being bombarded from the drow and from the thaarak hounds as well as the beholders. 

With some luck, I was able to use a few invisibility potions and take out the drow archers and activate the runes with only a single death…damn disintegrate…

I had previously lost two other lives fighting the named beholders and his minions. 

This quest is particularly challenging and is one of the harder quests at level.  This quest is level 13 on elite and Erdrique is currently level 16 when he defeated it.  Without using patience and planning, a party can have a miserable time in here.  I wish it was ran more, it is an interesting quest.  Thanks for reading everybody, and happy slaying!!

Having fun with Tomb of the Jade

The other day I was running Lorrikk who is a level 10 Half-elf Shintoa Monk.  I took him into Taming the Flames on elite.  Taming the Flames is just one of those quests than many players just loathe to do because it is extremely difficult for players that don’t have evasion because of the large number fire elementals that spawn in that quest.  However, I figured with Lorrikk I would be able to have a much easier time than most others because of his evasion and high reflex save..and because he has Tomb of the Jade.  Now I fully admit that I’m not an expert at monks at all, I would be lucky to be considered knowledgeable, but when it comes to this ability I find it outstanding!!

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Lorrikk using Tomb of the Jade in Taming the Flames and having fun with those pesky fire elementals.

Tomb of the Jade is a special monk ability in the Shintao Prestige line that will encase a tainted creature in a tomb of jade on a failed will save (DC=10+Wisdom Modifier+Monk Level).  A tainted creature includes an aberration, extraplanar creatures that are not considered lawful outsiders, and undead.  Extraplanar creatures and undead enemies have to make two consecutive will saves or become encased.  Because fire elementals are extraplanar, the Tomb of the Jade works out quite well on these enemies!!

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Lorrikk enjoying his time in the Scorched Caverns.

I worked on maintaining a high enough Ki amount, which wasn’t all that hard to do, and had a fun time encasing as many elementals as I could, as well as a few mephits.  With Lorrikk’s ability to encase these creatures in Jade, his evasion, high reflex saves, and his curative abilities he had no problems taking on the quest.  Out of all of my characters, Taming the Flames was most easily completed by Lorrikk.  I’m looking forward to moving him forward in his levels and learning more about his abilities.  Thanks for reading everybody!!

You know if I were one of the Statler Brothers…

The other day I was running Hamllin through the Market and had just started to run the Sharn Syndicate Series.  The basic premise of the series is to stop the troubles that are being caused by a bunch of thugs known as the Sharn Syndicate.  Evidently they have decided to make Stormreach their new stomping grounds and we are asked by the Coin Lords to put an end to their charades buy taking care of one problem after another until we deal with the overlord of the Syndicate himself.

The first quest we get to do to thwart their plans is called Stand Your Ground.  Maxwell Statler and his brother are taking a stand against the Sharn Syndicate and need some help in keeping their bar.   

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Hammy helping out the Statler brothers….well sort of..

However, one thing I noticed while you are helping the Statler brothers is that they don’t seem to care about you destroying the tables and other furniture in the bar at all.  LOL, even when there aren’t any enemies around, they don’t say anything when you just blatantly destroy and obliterate their wooden tables and chairs.  Perhaps they take out the damage to their property out of your reward.  Lord knows that I would be quite upset if I hired somebody to help protect me and my property and that bodyguard simply destroyed the property outright on their own…

Then again, if you think about the times of the Old West…where everything goes, that behavior is probably just common place.  Who really knows, but I think it would have been better to get an experience point bonus for the lease amount of things broken in the quest instead of a ransack bonus.  Just saying….  Happy hunting all!!

Enjoying the fix to Spinner of Shadows Quest Chain

Prior to the Shadowfell Conspiracy release, I had taken Garrrin into the Lords of Dust on Epic Normal twice and attempted to power through it with my hireling army.  Unfortunately, due to the wacky CR and scaling issues that were occurring in the quest, Garrrin never did successfully complete the Lords of Dust on Epic Normal.  However, with the release of the Shadowfell Conspiracy, the CR and scaling issues were corrected.

Earlier last week I decided to try the Spinner of Shadows chain once again and headed back to take on the Lords of Dust.  And I must say, I greatly appreciate the corrections that were made !! 

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Garrrin tripping Tahmael in the Lords of Dust.

During this particular go round, Garrrin fared much better and the mobs were scaled correctly.  The quest itself was once again completable for me and still felt challenging, especially when running with some hirelings.

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Garrrin fighting in the Cultist Base. 

I still ran into some complications when my hireling cleric died during the fight with Karas but that was quickly overcome and I was finally able to complete the quest on Epic Normal and to move onward to the Servants of the Overlord

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Garrrin traveling in the Road of Tarath Marad.

For Servants of the Overlord, I was joined by another guildie, Hellsbain (in the above and below screeshot Hellsbain was running a lower level character [Sornea] and joined me after I started Servants of the Overlord), and we progressed nicely through the quest.  The CR and scaling corrections were evident in here as well, as the majority of the mobs appeared to be of the right complexity and strength for us.

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Garrrin enjoying his time in Servants of the Overlord.

We did have a slight issue at the last fight, where our hireling cleric bit the dust, but we were able to  complete the quest.  In short, I really appreciate that the scaling issues in this quest chain were noted and corrected.  It has made it possible for me to once again enjoy these quests without having to worry about scaling issues.  Now I’m looking forward to taking on the Spinner herself during my next log in with Garrrin!!  Thanks for reading all!!

Random Thoughts on the Enemies of the Desert Caravan

One of my more favorite set of quests is Demon Sands, also known as the Sands of Menechtarun.  The Demon Sands was one of the earlier content packs released for DDO and when it was first released (Module 3), the only way to get to Zawabi’s Refuge (the central hub for the quest pack) you had to complete the quest, the Desert Caravan.  The Desert Caravan is bestowed by Iosynne d’Phiarlan in the House P Ward of Stormreach.  The premise of the quest is simple, protect the caravan from the denizens of the Menechtarun desert.

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Erdrique in the midst of protecting the Caravan.

The Desert Caravan was unique because it gave us the first glimpse about what we would encounter within the wild landscape of the Menechtarun Desert.  Later, the requirement to complete the Desert Caravan to reach Zawabi’s Refuge was changed and a NPC was added that would offer you transport to the Zawabi’s Refuge via airship. 

The other day I was taking Erdrique through the Desert Caravan as he was working on his level 11 quests and took notice of the mobs he was engaging with while protecting the caravan.  The primary thing I noticed, was that the we encountered only three types of mobs: Drow Scorpions, regular scorpions, and hyenas.  I’m not counting the archers in this analysis because they don’t come within melee range and are really often overlooked.  I thought this array of mobs was strange.  If you known anything at all about the Menechtarun Desert and it’s landscape you know that it has three primary zones: undead, gnolls, and drow (with their scorrow scorpions).  There is very little “mingling” of within these zones.  The attack on the caravan is primarily due to scorrow forces of the drow but what is interesting about this is that we actually see no drow at all, only their aberration drow scorpions.  This is different to the rest of the Desert itself when we encounter much more regular drow than we do drow scorpions.  Why aren’t they partaking in this raid?  Also, another confusing point in this situation are the hyenas.  The hyenas are part of the gnoll bands and are not associated with the scorrow at all.  So how did so many hyenas become part of this raiding party? 

I’m not sure I can determine any “realistic” logic here.  My initial thinking is that route of the caravan took it near or past the quest entrance of “Raid the Vulkoorim“.  Raid the Vulkoorim has nothing in it but scorpions on drow scorpions, suggesting that it was the source of the raiders.  However, where do the hyena’s come in.  From what I can tell, the gnolls and hyenas pretty much hate the Vulkoorim drow and they wouldn’t be working with each other at all.  In fact, a band of Windlasher gnolls is actually conducting it’s own raid in the quest Raid the Vulkoorim.  So are the hyenas somehow captives of the drow being forced to augment their forces?  Are they being charmed somehow?  I’m not sure on that point.

In any case, I really do enjoy the Desert quests and just wanted to pass those thoughts along.  Thanks for reading, and happy explorations to all!!

Review of the Tomb of the Unhallowed

Erdrique is currently working on his level 11 quests, which includes four quests required to open up the Cursed Crypt: Tomb of the Unhallowed, Tomb of the Forbidden, Tomb of Tormented, and Tomb of the Blighted.  This series is better known as Necro III.  Last weekend I started this series by taking on the the Tomb of the Unhallowed.  The Tomb of the Unhallowed is bestowed by a rather arrogant NPC named Lady Vienne.  She basically tells you to go to the Tomb to destroy the guardian and basically mentions that any lout can do this.  Of course there are a number of details that she doesn’t tell you…go figure.

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Erdrique taking on some of the cultists in the Tomb of the Unhallowed.

The tomb is split into four hallways or quadrants, with the entrance of the tomb being in the center.  The guardian actually has four guardians of his own (a vampire, a giant skeleton, a quell, and a flesh golem), one in each quadrant, and these have to be destroyed to summon the primary guarding, a mummy.  To summon these guardians you have to attune an altar in each quadrant.  The quest is primarily composed of various undead mobs including wights, eternal skeletons, ghouls, wraiths, and zombies.  However, there are also some cultists in the tomb, which the good ol’ Lady doesn’t mention and she also doesn’t mention that they seem to be having issues with their undead comrades.  I find it interesting when you walk into a room and find the cultists fighting with the undead mobs, and for the most part not paying any attention to you until you jump into the mix.  LOL, I guess you can never trust those undead allies

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Erdrique making his way through the Tomb of the Unhallowed.

An intriguing set of mobs in this quest are the ogre mages.  I’ve been wondering how these fellows relate to the cultists and to the storyline of the Black Abbott.  I’m not sure how their presence is accounted for because they don’t seem to be related to any other group we have encountered so far.  They do appear to be fanatic cultists, they just don’t happen to be one of the common races, but how did they become enticed by the Black Abbott?  In either case, they are in the tomb as well and can be annoying if not taken out quickly.

After killing the four guardians (of the guardian), you make your way back to the center and take on the ruthless mummy.  Of course he isn’t by himself but as soon as you kill him, the other mobs will go down soon enough.

Overall, the Tomb of the Unhallowed is an interesting quest.  It doesn’t take a lot of time to run, has a variety of undead mobs, a few optionals, a couple of traps, and some interesting plot twists (cultist fighting undead mobs and the ogre mages).  Out of the four quests to open up the Cursed Crypt, I probably enjoy this one the most.  It isn’t nearly as annoying as the Tomb of the Blighted, as frustrating as Tomb of the Tormented, and doesn’t require the passing of the gears as seen in Tomb of the Forbidden.      

I hope you all liked this quick and dirty review.  Thanks for reading and get back to slaying those undead mobs!! 

Frustration with the Restless Isles…

As I take Erdrique through this particular life on his way through the completionist train, one of the goals I wanted to try to accomplish was to knock out all of the Wilderness Zones, at the appropriate levels, as well as hit up all of the quests on elite (excluding raids) without “leveling out of them”.  So far I have done pretty good.  Erdrique currently stands at level 15 and the lowest non-raid quest he needs is Ghola-Fan which is level 12 on elite, so he hasn’t out leveled it yet. 

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Erdrique exploring the Restless Isles.

As for the explorer areas, he has completed Korthos, Cerulean Hills, Waterworks, Tangleroot, Three Barrel Cove, Searing Heights, Red Fens, Sorrowdusk Isle, and Ataraxia’s Haven all within the appropriate level ranges.  The next one to hit up was the Restless Isles.  Well, I did complete all of the slayers for the Restless Isles, but when I completed that I was forced to take my current level (leveling from 14 to 15 as I had a level banked).  The only thing I had left for the Restless Isles was to find one more explorer point and knock out one more rare encounter.  However, these both require the Golden Figurine which is only attainable from the quest Slaver’s of the Shrieking Mines.  So, just to satisfy my need to get the area complete, I ran the Slavers of the Shrieking Mines over the weekend obtained the Golden Figurine and came back out to the explorer area. 

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Erdrique taking on Than Hap, one of the rare encounters in the Restless Isles.

I took the Golden Figurine to the appropriate wildman rebel and he let me into the hidden passage where I picked up the last explorer point.  Now, every other time I have done this, the rare wildman has always been there.  Well, go figure, this time I only had a regular wildman to defeat and now the only way to complete this area is for me to rerun Slavers of the Shrieking Mines just so I can get a Golden Figurine and try again.  Talk about frustrating…I wish the named wildman encounter would also spawn at a secondary point.  Oh well, I guess I will have that one not complete, although I do plan on knocking out Ghola-Fan I do not plan on hitting up Slavers of the Shrieking Mine again, unless a guildie needs it.

Erd enjoying the view in the Restless Isles.

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Erdrique fighting Runetusk ogres on his way to Slayers of the Shrieking Mines.

Perhaps Erd will get luckier on his next go round.  It is time to prep for the Desert now as well as Gianthold!!  Thanks for reading all and happy hunting!!

What’s the deal with the wildmen?

Over the past week or so I took Erdrique through Ataraxia’s Haven and the Restless Isles.  One thing that both of these areas have in common are the wildmen.  Going by the appropriate level ranges, you come across Ataraxia’s Haven first and then come on toward the Restless Isles.  However, there is a discrepancy here.  The storyline for the Restless Isles indicates that the wildmen the descendants of the servants of the Quori and they are only found in the Restless Isles.  This is why the wildmen can enter the Twilight Forge without any problems, however, if the wildmen are limited to the Restless Isles then how did they make their way to Ataraxia’s Haven?  They are also located in the Skyfall Coast, where they are present when the forces of Droaam begin to start their siege on Stormreach.

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Erdrique wondering about the secrets of the Restless Isles and the source of the wildmen.

So, then what is going on here?  I have two theories here and am wondering if there are any others.  My first theory is that the Restless Isles is the center for the wildmen.  I’m thinking that some of the wildmen were pushed out by the Runetusk Ogre clan and as a result they made their way to Ataraxia’s Haven and to the Skyfall Coast.  Therefore they have migrated to new areas to establish a new home. 

My second theory, perhaps the Quori once used these two areas for some purpose as well.  Perhaps there are some ancient Quori secrets here, and similar to the Restless Isles, these wildmen are the descendants of those servants for the Quori.  So it could be possible that the reports from Ataraxia’s Haven and the Skyfall Coast weren’t up to date, therefore suggesting to the explorers of the Restless Isles that the only place wildmen were found were located there.

So does anybody else have any other suggestions or thoughts?  Thanks for reading and happy hunting in the Islands!!